Saturday, February 03, 2007

Sharing the road in Marin: "What happened to common sense?"

These two letters to the editor appear in today's Marin Independent Journal (

Sharing some common sense

For years, I have wondered what happened to common sense when the subject of bicycles and "sharing the road" comes up. Anyone who drives the backroads in Marin is aware that most bicyclists not only ignore virtually every law in the vehicle code, they go out of their way to block traffic.

I often have wondered why a driver of a car that is moving too slow and obstructing the flow of traffic can be ticketed and yet we tolerate this behavior from bicyclists. Critical Mass is an excellent example.

If motorists are expected to share the road with these super-egos, perhaps bicyclists should pay an annual license fee to help offset some of the costs of maintaining our roads and enforcing traffic rules.

Assembly Bill 60 is another example of the lack of common sense. A bicyclist who is in the traffic lane and causes the driver of a vehicle to have to apply his or her brakes because they are impeding the normal flow of traffic needs to get out of the traffic lane.

Bicyclists should be required to stay to the far right of a traffic lane, if not on the shoulder, when possible. They should have to ride single file.

I often come on packs of bicyclists on our backroads who not only ignore a wide paved shoulder, where they could be riding safely and not obstructing traffic, but are riding three to four abreast, bringing traffic to a crawl and making passing them impossible.

The "share the road" slogan has become the banner for stupidity and arrogance that has no place on our roads. What kinds of lessons in bicycle safety and respect for other people and our laws does this pass on to our children, who witness these adults obstructing traffic and violating rules?

Suzette LePage

Motorists deserve respect

I live off Sir Francis Drake Boulevard and encounter cyclists every day. These groups of almost always male cyclists in flashy outfits are not on their way to work, but out on a pleasure ride. Last Wednesday, I was driving west over White's Hill and was frustrated trying to pass three cyclists riding side by side who were using the road---not the wide bike lane. Many of the vehicles on Sir Francis Drake are delivery trucks, but they also include motorists driving to work, picking up supplies and mothers driving their children to school.

On Sir Francis Drake on the way to Olema there are many turnouts. The California vehicle code states that if a slow car is holding up five vehicles, then the slow car must pull over. Why not bicyclists? They should obey the same laws. The bicyclist does not need to stop, but instead can ride slowly in the open area until the traffic passes.

Sometimes, it is difficult to pass on winding roads. I try to be careful, but may pass closer than I would like. As a result, I could be fined. Bicyclists are not required to keep their distance. As a result, trucks and cars become the burdened party.

Marina Eisenzimmer
San Geronimo

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At 3:18 PM, Anonymous Suisun Salman said...

See Rob - sometimes you do post useful stuff. Although it was someone elses words.

Of course these are reasonable letters. But, do bear in mind that the Marin "super ego" investment banker on his $4000 Trek is totally different from a bike commuter in San Francsico - who most certainly does deserve better bike lanes.

If they could drop the asinine litigation and open the old railroad tunnels to bikes in Marin, you'd get a heck of a lot fewer problems on those passes...

At 10:56 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

I see that you cling to your BikeThink ideology: If only there were more bike lanes, people would turn to bikes with gratitude. Rehabbing the tunnels of Marin? Ha! That would cost untold millions. Anyhow, there are only three old tunnels that I know of, and I grew up in Marin. My impression is that the behavior of cyclists in the city and in Marin isn't so different, though it manifests itself in different ways. The favorite form of reckless rudeness displayed by city cyclists: speeding down the city's many hills, running stop signs and scattering pedestrians in their wake. Visiting Marin shows how clearly bikes are primarily a recreational accessory---not a serious means of everyday transportation---with the mountain bikes on Marin's watershed trails and road bikes on the miles of open road in west Marin. You see even fewer cyclists running errands or commuting in Marin than you do in SF.

Cyclists "deserve better bike lanes"? Maybe, but city motorists don't deserve to have traffic snarled by removing traffic lanes for 1% of the city's population on behalf of a goofy, utopian fantasy.

At 9:23 AM, Anonymous Dave Jowlles said...

Rob, why do you hate San Francisco?

At 10:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We're not doing it for the 1%; we're doing it for everyone.

When I have to ride my bike in front of the bus up haight, or up polk or fillmore because there's no bike lane to ride in, it's gonna slow you down-- you're going to wish I had a bike lane.

At 10:52 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"Rob, why do you hate San Francisco?"

Dave, what are you talking about? Is cycling in your mind somehow tangled up with the identity of the city itself? Try to focus on the issues being discussed.

At 11:03 AM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

"We're not doing it for the 1%; we're doing it for everyone."

No, you aren't. You're a self-centered crackpot like a lot of your comrades on bikes, which is illustrated by the second part of your message. This is one of the central delusions of BikeThink: that you aren't simply choosing a risky form of transportation, but that you're also fighting global warming.

"When I have to ride my bike in front of the bus up haight, or up polk or fillmore because there's no bike lane to ride in, it's gonna slow you down-- you're going to wish I had a bike lane."

Yes, that will show the rest of us how much you "are doing it for everyone"! Haight St. is only two lanes; how are you going to put bike lanes on that street? The only way you can do that is by taking away all the street parking, which will really put you in solid with the merchants on Haight.

At 11:46 AM, Anonymous Dave Jowlles said...

Global warming? Who brought that up?

Rob, you clearly hate SF. I suggest you move to LA where you'll be much happier... or perhaps Modesto.

At 12:57 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

I was responding to your anonymous comrade's claim that he/you are riding bikes in SF "for everyone." His claim, besides being inherently fatuous, is admittedly a little ambiguous. But I get a lot of comments suggesting that cyclists in the city aren't just choosing to ride bikes but are doing so in response to global warming or some other grandiose notion.

Still not clear why you think I hate SF, Dave. If I don't accept the goofball political agenda of the bike people, I somehow don't belong in SF?

At 4:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

some people simply cannot afford to live in the city and own a car. what mode of transportation would you suggest these people use?

At 9:16 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

Get a Muni fast pass for $45 a month and do a lot of walking, which is good for you and not nearly as dangerous as riding a bike. That's what I do, and I get around very well.

At 9:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

$45 PER MONTH????
that $45 could buy a bike, which doesnt expire after 30 days.

At 9:39 PM, Blogger Rob Anderson said...

No, but you don't have to risk your life while riding Muni. If you can afford to buy a bike, what's the problem?


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